Under My Tree

Under My Tree

Our Christmas tree doesn’t typically have many gifts under it. This year there’s a box of chocolates, two gifts for the family gift exchange and, of course, a cat. Every December I feel some pressure to succumb to “mountain of toys” thinking and I concede that our tree doesn’t measure up to those standards. It should be brimming with gifts, not only for those in need, but for those with much (too much) as well.

Meanwhile, messages about the true meaning of Christmas vie for our attention and “Christmas cancelled in Bethlehem” flashes across the news, drawing our hearts to the devastating situation in Palestine. My thoughts also turn to Myanmar, where families of our Chin friends have recently been forced to flee to the jungle once again, as militia groups have burned their homes.

Holding together and making sense of life’s realities - heart-felt generosity, real needs, over-consumption, the destruction of life and livelihoods – takes some balancing and makes me wonder what the Prince of Peace might be saying to us this Christmas.

In the big-picture world, we might think of peace as the absence of violence and war, economic and social justice, or respect for human rights, i.e., the problems of governments and world leaders, and not something I’m likely to be bringing about in spite of how many online petitions I sign or letters I write. On the scale of my daily life, though, an abundance of opportunities to bring about peace present themselves. Gentleness and kindness, self-control, patience and calm in the midst of life’s noise, giving and receiving forgiveness, collaboration - each of these is an act of peace and an opportunity to influence the outcome of an encounter, each day.

Imagine Christmas trees around the world overflowing with gifts of commitments to small acts of peace, freely given and freely received, peace that’s embodied by the Prince of Peace. Together, as influencers of peace, could we change the course of 2024?